Raising tobacco prices through taxes could help reduce tobacco consumption in low and middle income countries, a study published in the Tobacco Control journal has found.
During the study, researchers compared cigarette prices in 15 low and middle-income countries, including bidis (small, hand rolled cigarettes in India and Bangladesh) and found large price differences – indicating opportunities to raise tobacco prices through tax adjustments.

A uniform high excise tax ensures a higher price for tobacco products and can reduce the range of tobacco prices available in countries. It’s been found that higher priced tobacco products result in less tobacco consumption.

Key findings from the study are:
• The average price of cigarettes is lowest in the Philippines, followed by Vietnam and Russia. Romania, Poland and Turkey have the highest prices.
• Bidis purchased in India and Bangladesh are much cheaper than cigarettes.
• After adjusting for each country’s average income, Russia has the most affordable cigarettes followed by Brazil and China. Cigarettes in Russia are so cheap that they are cheaper than bidis in India and Bangladesh.
• A wider range of cigarette prices provides opportunities for substitution from higher prices to cheaper products. The range of prices paid for cigarettes is greatest in Mexico, India and China, where smokers can substitute cheaper cigarettes for more expensive ones.

Data for tobacco prices came from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), a national survey of adults 15 years and older conducted in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam between October 2008 and March 2010.

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